Enda: First item on the agenda -Should we re-appoint Michael Lowry’s friend, Valerie O’Reilly, to the board of the National Transport Authority? Postponed? Agreed? Good.
Second item – correspondence, the weekly letter of applause from Angela Merkel. This time she is over the moon about our 3.5pc forecast growth figures.
She is thrilled, insisting that we are the envy of Europe. She puts it all down to our obedience to the austerity agenda. She wants us to reiterate her appreciation to the Irish people for all their “sacrifices”. Angela is equally ecstatic about our jobless figures falling to 10.5pc.
Joan Burton: Did she say anything about the Greeks and the Greek debt?
Enda: No, but she seems very happy with our stance on that too. Incidentally, so are the Dutch and the Finns. We are in good standing with all the European austerity hawks. No rocking of the boat here. Ireland’s ranking in Europe is higher than ever.
Leo Varadkar: Good news, Taoiseach. Does she mention debt relief for Ireland in exchange for our top-of-the class status? Is there any response to our plea for her to fulfil the June 2012 pledge for the ESM to rescue our banks?
Enda: No. Off the record Leo, the hawks have told us to bury that little ray of hope. We overegged the pudding on that. Besides, our official line is that AIB and Bank of Ireland are recovering. We are going to sell them off for billions to the market vultures. They no longer need help.
Joan: No word from Angela about the Greek pressure for a debt conference?
Enda: Not a whisper.
Joan: Phew. It seems to be dying a death. The debt conference is a Trojan horse leading to debt forgiveness for the Greek government rag bag.
Secretary to the Cabinet Martin Frazer: Sorry to interrupt you, Taoiseach, but a high level delegation from Greece has just arrived in Government Buildings. They are asking to see you.
Enda: Me? What is the leader’s name?
Secretary: Tsipras of Syriza.
Enda: Is that the ISIS of Syria?
Secretary: No, Taoiseach, nothing to do with Syria. He is an even more unwelcome visitor, I’m afraid. Alexis Tsipras is the leader of the Syriza party and prime minister of Greece.
Enda: God help us, a socialist. Has he any of his lunatic fringe with him? Joan, this is a job for the Labour Party, could you dig up some old leftie to meet him?
Joan: Sorry Enda, but all our socialists have been hounded out of the Labour Party – though we still have the odd loony leftie on board. I could send out Eric Byrne TD or Siptu boss Jack O’Connor, if that’d help? They understand how the old leftie mindset works. They will love Alexis Tsipras and his entourage.
Enda: Eh, no Joan, I had better meet him. He is, after all, a prime minister. We must at least pay token recognition to the democratic madness. . . sorry, mandate, of the Greek citizens. Joan, perhaps you would come with me?
The Scene: Twenty minutes later, the Sycamore Room in Merrion Street. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton meet Greek premier Alexis Tsipras and finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
Enda: Good morning Alexis and Yanis. To what do I owe such an unexpected honour?
Tsipras: Sorry Taoiseach, for the sudden appearance – but we Greeks need to unite with our kindred spirits. We share Ireland’s chronic debt problem. The big guns – the Germans, the ECB and the European Commission – are playing hardball. They are refusing us debt forgiveness. We have visited them all, but there are no concessions on offer.
Varoufakis: On Wednesday evening, the European Central Bank even closed down one of our sources of funding – only hours after I had a constructive meeting with ECB President Mario Draghi.
Enda: Yes, I know. Mmm. We in Ireland believe that there are conditions attached to ECB funding. Borrowers must obey them. We did. You should learn that democratically elected governments never win the battle against Europe’s unelected power houses.
Tsipras: We know, and to our cost. That is why we have decided to hold our debt conference in friendly territory – here in Dublin! You would make the perfect hosts. Your hospitality and your experience of the misery of austerity would be invaluable. We debtor nations can fight the Germans together. Solidarity, Comrade Kenny and Comrade Burton.
Enda: Er, er. . . Angela is the leader of our Christian Democratic comrades. She sees a debt forgiveness conference as cover for debt relief and debt write-off. Unlike you, we in Ireland never dared to eyeball Angela and ask for debt reduction, except in the heat of an election battle.
We accepted that our innocent citizens should be punished for the sins of the banks. Just imagine what would happen if YOU were suddenly granted debt forgiveness. Our citizens might wonder why we had failed to win a single red cent of forgiveness for ourselves.
It would be deeply embarrassing, especially with an election looming. Our entire strategy would be exposed. We would be ridiculed as the wimps of Europe. We would be forced to demand similar concessions.
Joan: Sorry Alexis, those are the Taoiseach’s personal views, only part of the story. He meant to add that there are ways of renegotiating the debt. We managed to negotiate a restructuring of a €50bn loan with Eurogroup. You should do the same. Once you have obeyed the mighty Chancellor she will give you crumbs from her table. Stick to the established channels, Alexis. First you surrender. Then we will stand shoulder to shoulder with you singing The Internationale.
Make no mistake. Irish socialists sympathise with you in your terrible plight. We know that your citizens are suffering. We support all efforts to alleviate the hardship of the Greek people. Our hearts bleed for you.
We urge you, like us, to take the medicine. Within a few short years, like us, you will feel the benefits.
Tsipras: Sympathy hardly feeds hungry mouths, Joan. What about our debt conference? You support us having it in Dublin? You could chair it. Socialists from Spain, France, Portugal and Italy have promised to come.
We will put maximum pressure on Angela Merkel and Mario Draghi. We will show the Finns and the Dutch that they cannot trample on the citizens of Ireland and Greece without meeting resistance. We will lead the charge for debt forgiveness. Ireland will be the second nation to leap through the gap. Once you win debt relief, you will be able to build more hospitals, give grants to small business, raise senior citizens’ pensions and increase public service pay.
Joan: Alexis, Alexis, Alexis. . . ah, unfortunately we have no conference facilities available in Dublin in the coming months. Unfortunately nothing suitable is free. We would love to help, but. . .
Enda: Let me give you some advice. Sort out your problems the way we are. Accept the debt. Pretend it is sustainable, even though it is not. Pass it on to your grandchildren and win the next general election. Encourage emigration as the solution to your joblessness crisis. Pad your growth figures by massaging export numbers. We have State agencies that I will ask to tell you about our “contract manufacturing” wheeze and its effect on growth. Remember you are not a nation – you are an economy.
Tsipras: You were our last hope. Ireland now joins the ranks of Germany’s economic satellites. We will press the exit button. To hell with the consequences.Pages: 1 2